In a perfect world, you would be the super hero and everything that needed your attention would get it.
In a perfect world, you would deal with these incoming request with ease, always knowing the answer, and always completing your tasks with the utmost efficiency.
In a perfect world, you would have enough time to put out fires, create new and more efficient systems, and finish your list of to-dos by the end of every working day.
In the words of the Oracle from The Matrix, “You have a good soul, and I hate giving good people bad news,” but here’s the bad news.
You will never have a perfect day.
No matter how leveraged you get, someone or something is inevitably going to come along and try to derail you. Heck, that someone may even be yourself. I can’t tell you how often it happens that I get in my own way!
How you go about dealing with your imperfect days is what determines the outcome of that day.
This is where the concept of triage comes in.
I use triage when I feel like my day is getting significantly derailed. To me, this feels like a tightness in my stomach and a panicky feeling in my chest. My brain tells me it’s just too much and I can’t handle it!
That’s when I start deciding what’s the bare minimum that needs to get done today? Of everything that’s happening, all the stuff I had planned for today, and all the new stuff that just got dumped on me, what is it that absolutely must get done before I leave the office today?
Then I make a list of those things. This list may be long, but the items on the list should not take much time.
Here’s an example. The buyer’s agent on your team hands you a freshly signed contract. Usually this triggers a list of 20+ things that need to happen. But which of those 20 things must get done before you leave the office today and which of those things can wait until tomorrow if you don’t have time to get to them today?
In this example, the only thing I would add to my must-do list is scan a copy of the entire contract to myself (if I didn’t have it in digital form to start with) and email the contract to the lender and the buyer with a short 2-3 sentence explanation to the buyer that I would call him before 3:00 PM the following day to talk about next steps.
Then I would put on tomorrow’s schedule exactly when I would work on this buyer’s file.
This method allows you to deal with the immediate and know that you have time in the future to finish the rest of the task completely.
The key here is to keep a list of what you’ve done. That way if you have completed a couple of items in a checklist without formally assigning that checklist in your system (your CRM or your paper files) you will know what steps you’ve already completed.
Triage Step By Step
Every time something new comes in, or you get interrupted by a teammate or client with new information take the following three actions in this order:
- Decide if it can be done in two minutes or less. If it can, then add it to the list of things that must get done before you leave the office. For things that need immediate attention (even if it’s going to take longer than two minutes) do them now. An example might be driving to an inspection to let the buyer’s agent into the house because she forgot her e-key.
- If it takes longer than two minutes, decide if you can chunk off a task that will take less than two minutes and add that to your must-do list. Like the new contract for the buyer in the example above.
- Time block everything else.
With that being said, you shouldn’t be performing triage on your days every day of the week. You should be able to block out chunks of time to be able to work on long-term projects and to fully invest the time it takes to get through your daily activities and finish them to completion.
When I was the only assistant on the team, I divided my day in half. The first half I devoted to processing transactions, and the second half I devoted to processing and marketing listings. It’s much easier to focus in on similar tasks and see them through to completion rather than bounce around among different tasks and get confused about what you were working on when something new comes in.
You shouldn’t feel like your hair is on fire every day. If that’s the case, it’s time to discover if you need additional administrative help in the form of another hire or a virtual assistant, or it’s time to discover whether a new system will help shave off time from your day and help you perform more efficiently.
What questions do you have? Need some help discovering if it’s time to hire or get a new system? I’d love to talk to you about it. Send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org